Baby Bottle Tooth Decay — Oral Health Terms & Definitions

When you’ve had a long day and your baby’s being finicky, it’s tempting to put her to bed with a juice bottle so she goes to sleep quickly and quietly.

Resist the urge. When your baby’s gums are constantly exposed to sugary liquids, they begin to deteriorate, resulting in a condition called baby bottle tooth decay. Instead of sweetened liquids like milk, formula, juice or soft drinks, feed your baby a bottle of cool water at bedtime.

Your baby needs strong, healthy teeth for all the same reasons you do. Plus, those teeny little baby teeth serve as placeholders for adult teeth, so if they come out too soon, your baby’s grown up smile could be in danger of becoming crooked or crowded.

Here’s some tips from the American Dental Association on how to prevent decay:

  • After each feeding, wipe the baby’s gums with a clean damp washcloth or piece of gauze.
  • Begin brushing your child’s teeth when the first tooth appears. Clean and massage gums that remain toothless. Begin flossing when all the baby teeth have come in, usually between two and three years old.
  • Never allow your child to fall asleep with a bottle of milk formula, fruit juice, soft drink or sweetened liquids.
  • If your child needs a comforter between regular feedings, at night or during naps, fill a bottle with cool water or give the child a clean pacifier. Never give your child a pacifier dipped in any sweet liquid.
  • Start regular dental visits by your child’s first birthday. If you think your child has a dental problem, see the dentist as soon as possible.

Baby bottle tooth decay can cause toothaches and make it difficult to eat now, and if left untreated, can cause severe infection, leaving your dentist no choice but to remove them. If that happens, your child may experience everything from poor eating habits to speech problems, to crooked, damaged or discolored permanent teeth.

Stop baby bottle tooth decay before it begins – and start your child off right.


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